Obama announces VP pick via text message

Posted by: Catherine Holahan on August 23

Turns out that the New York Times, not the legions of text message addicted Obama supporters, was first to learn that Barack Obama tapped Joe Biden as his Vice President. But, the official text message hours later confirming Biden’s selection still sent a clear message about the Obama campaign’s strategy to expand their database of supporter files.

This campaign will use whatever new means of communication necessary to tap Web savvy supporters and turn them into online Obama evangelists. “They are building supporter lists, but they are building them on different platforms,” says Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum, a group that tracks the role of technology in politics. “They can now get a whole new group of people who give him their cell phone number, which builds their database.”

The Obama campaign already uses social networking technology to build large rosters of online supporters, which they can mine for individuals willing to do everything from make phone calls to rally friends and family members to donate money. Obama’s promise to give supporters who texted the campaign an early heads up on his VP choice expanded his online database to include new supporters who are more comfortable with mobile phones than creating profiles on MyBarackObama.com or Facebook.

The strategy also gave Obama access to the telephone numbers of many individuals who may simply be curious about the candidate. Those people can now be called and converted into Obama supporters.

By 10 a.m. Saturday morning, Obama’s campaign already was using Biden’s selection to fuel traffic to their Web and more names for their database. The campaign urged supporters to send Biden a personal message, and supply their email, name, postal code, and phone number in the process.

“I’m excited about hitting the campaign trail with Joe, but the two of us can’t do this alone. We need your help to keep building this movement for change,” read one email. “Please let Joe know that you’re glad he’s part of our team. Share your personal welcome note and we’ll make sure he gets it.

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Election 2008

Washington Bureau Chief Jane Sasseen and other BusinessWeek writers cover the run-up to the Nov. 4 presidential election, paying close attention to how the candidates will handle issues such as housing, the economy, unemployment, and immigration.

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